Artists and other workers in the music industry, organized by the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers, took part in coordinated demonstrations today at Spotify offices around the world. The group calls for more transparency in the company’s business practices, an end to lawsuits filed against artists, and a user-centric payment model that pays a cent per stream, among other things.

Protests have been organized in 10 US cities as well as nearly two dozen other cities around the world in Australia, Europe, Asia, and Central and South America. The UMAW launched the “Justice at Spotify” campaign in October 2020 with a petition asking for support for its basic principles. Since then, it has received nearly 28,000 signatures from artists and other music industry workers.

“Spotify has abused music workers for a long time, but the pandemic has made exploitation much easier,” said UMAW organizer Mary Regalado (who also performs at Downtown Boys and Gauche). “The company tripled during the pandemic, not even increasing its artist payment rates by a fraction of a penny. Musicians around the world are currently unemployed while the industry-dominating tech giants are grossing billions. Music work is work, and we ask that you be paid fairly for that work. ”

While most of the UMAW’s requirements fall under Spotify’s purview, the most effective approach, the “penny-per-stream” approach, would require the support of the major labels who own the rights to the extensive catalogs that make up the UMAW composes Bulk Spotify Library. A 2017 Finnish study found that, under the pro-rated system Spotify currently uses, songs by the most popular artists (the top 0.4 percent) received 9.9 percent of royalties. Applying a “user-centric” model to the same data, the researchers found that the same top 0.4 percent of artists would generate only 5.6 percent of sales. In a response paper, Spotify’s economics director suggested that moving to a user-centric payment model would increase Spotify’s administrative costs to the point that it would exclude potential revenue gains for less popular artists – albeit with no evidence.

Pitchfork has approached Spotify representatives for comment.